Cynthia Green Libby is an inquisitive oboist whose life and curiosity informs her new CD, The Lotus Pond: Exotic Oboe Sounds with Piano, Harp and Percussion. “One of my passions is learning new styles of music for performance especially works by women composers and other underrepresented composers of our time,’ says Libby.
Indeed the CD has music from an Egyptian, a man from Wales, a Vietnamese, a Peruvian, and even a couple of Americans. Part of the focus of the CD is the pairing of the oboe with the harp. “The ancient Greeks considered them opposites because they had a god of wine and passion, Dionysus, and then Apollo was the god of intellectual balance and reason. Apollo played the Kythera the version of the harp and Dionysus played the aulos, an early ancient version of the oboe. So putting these two together is kind of what spurred this bucket list project.”
The harp has a special place in Green’s life. “Actually when my mother was dying of cancer about 2005-2006, I was with her at the bedside quite a bit. I felt compelled to play music but who wants an oboe in their face when they’re dying, or not feeling well? And after that experience I decided to look into the whole field a little more deeply.”
Shortly after this, Green took off from teaching for a year. “I took a sabbatical in 2007 to learn therapeutic harp. I learned to pay the folk harp that you can carry around to bedsides.” She has very different goals when she plays the harp than when she plays oboe. “Now, if someone falls asleep while I’m playing the harp. I’m delighted. It means they’re able to relax. There a way to effect people with the language of music that we simply cannot do with words.”
One of the pieces from The Lotus Pond…CD combines the oboe with harp for Elizabeth Vercoe’s “The Butterfly Effect.” It’s inspired by a Taoist quote about a human who dreams of being a butterfly and wonders if he’s a butterfly or a human dreaming about being a butterfly,” says Green.
I asked her if she sometimes things she’s an oboist dreaming of being an oboist, or… She stopped and joked, “It’s a lifelong pursuit.”